Several Jacksonville marketing firms that been touting to their clients the importance of increasing their scores on social measuring sites such as Klout.com. They also advocate targeting the top Klout scorers because they are online influencers who could have an impact on their client’s product, service or idea.
But when you dig down into what is being measured, are these social scoring services really compiling accurate data needed to determine if someone is a major influencer?
If you are not familiar with these social sites, there are several free measuring services such as Klout, Kred and Peerindex that offer a third party evaluation of a person’s activity and social capital online.
One of the problems I have with these services is that they do not take data from any other source than Twitter and Facebook. They do not collect data from Google, Linkedin or blogs. Twitter is the major data source for them because Twitter activity is one of few social networks that doesn’t firewall conversations.
And people can game Klout with Twitter. A good example is when you constantly see an individual tweet their location (I’m at the gas station or I’m at so and so restaurant.) The more tweets someone has, the higher their score is on Klout. So does that really make them an “influencer?”
Paul Gillin, a columnist for B-to-B magazine (New Channels by Paul Gillin) has an excellent expose’ about the value of measuring online influence. His concern is somewhat two fold. First, he believes that influence involves decisions that are more complex. He reports “conversations at conferences – over dinner or on the golf course – help decision-makers work out important details. The bigger and more complex the decision, the less likely it is that those who influence it are sharing their recommendations on Facebook.”
His second concern is that social media has demonstrated that audience size has little to do with influence, particularly in the narrow markets that typify b-to-b transactions. He goes on to say that the measurement services frame their definition of influence by number of followers and retweets. Gillin hits home this point by saying that, based on this criteria, Lady Gaga is the most influential person on the planet.
Gillin offers additional excellent examples of the flaws of measurement sites:
Marc Andreesen is one of the fathers of the modern Internet; but because he rarely uses Twitter, he earns mediocre rankings on the two most popular measurement service sites.
Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, because of his job, cannot use Twitter. According to these sites, he has no influence!
I would have to agree with Gillin in his assessment that for b-to-c marketers, these services have limited use. And for b-to-b marketers, they are almost useless. Therefore, I caution Jacksonville businesses not to place too much confidence and too much time online with social measurement sites.
If you get a chance to read Gillin’s column each month in B-to-B magazine, you won’t be disappointed with his updates of online industry trends. His website is www.gillin.com.